The most powerful way to grow your business and your career these days is to become a visible influencer in your domain. People follow influencers on social media to find what they buy, who they vote for, and which social causes they support.
You don't have to be the smartest person in the room to be an influencer, but you do have to understand and practice some key techniques.
In this age of total and instant communication via Internet videos and smartphones, everyone assumes that if they don't know you, you are hiding something, or perhaps don't even exist.
They flocked to businesses like Apple, when influencer Steve Jobs was at the helm, and anxiously await the next moves from visible entrepreneurs, including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk.
Personalities in business are the influencers these days, rather than brand names and symbols. You are your own brand, and the brand for your business. Thus it behooves you to do everything you can to be perceived as an influencer.
I found a good summary of these attributes in a recent book, "The Old School Advantage: Timeless Tools for Every Generation," by an expert on interpersonal communication, J. N. Whiddon.
The keys to being an influencer are time-honored and not new, but they have assumed a new importance in this age of instant communication. Based on my current role as a mentor to entrepreneurs, I will paraphrase and recommend Whiddon's top techniques in business terms:
We all relish working with and buying from people we can relate to on a personal level. In today's customer context, you can foster rapport by dressing like them, making every effort to look attractive, offering compliments, and listening intensely.
Customers need to believe that you are one of them.
Entrepreneurs who are clearly willing to give as well as take in business become influencers because people feel the urge to reciprocate.
Going out of your way to help a customer or help a good cause pays big dividends these days.